Walmart to face class action over ‘deceptive’ pricing

Walmart is facing a potential class action lawsuit over unfair and deceptive pricing practices that could cost consumers millions of dollars a year.

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago last week ruled that the company must face a lawsuit claiming it charges higher prices at the register than it posts on store shelves.

The court order allows customers to prove their case in a proposed class action regarding Walmart’s “bait-and-switch” pricing scheme, which violated consumer protection laws.

The legal process first started when Ohio resident Yoram Kahn filed a lawsuit against the nation’s largest retailer over pricing discrepancies.

Kahn said he had shopped at a Walmart location in Niles, Illinois in August 2022 and noticed several items were charged 10-15 per cent higher than their shelf prices. He later discovered the similar issue at other stores in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

The lawsuit added that Walmart had been fined $2 million by a California court over pricing errors at checkout in 2012. Two North Carolina locations were also fined in 2021 for “repeated and excessive scanning charges” that caused excessive charges on purchased items.

A district court previously dismissed the case on the pleadings and denied leave to amend the complaint, but the decision was reversed by the circuit court.

Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote in the ruling that it was “neither unreasonable nor fanciful” for consumers to believe Walmart would charge the prices displayed on shelves.

Consumers cannot be expected to always keep an eagle eye at checkout or keep track of shelf prices, whether by memory or by creating a record, as they shop, Hamilton added.

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